le·​mur | \ ˈlē-mər How to pronounce lemur (audio) \

Definition of lemur

: any of various arboreal diurnal or nocturnal, chiefly arboreal primates (superfamily Lemuroidea) of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands that usually have a longish muzzle, large eyes, very soft woolly fur, and a long furry tail and that feed on fruit and plant parts (such as leaves, flowers, and seeds) and sometimes insects and small animals

Note: Unlike most other primates, lemurs have a well-developed sense of smell. Physical and genetic characteristics indicate that all lemurs descended from a common prosimian ancestor that arrived in Madagascar approximately 55 to 60 million years ago.

Though matriarchy is rare in primates, female dominance is the norm for most lemur species.— Patricia Edmonds As a consequence of these activities and others, such as illicit hunting, most of the larger extant lemurs of Madagascar have very restricted ranges,— David A. Burney and Ross D. E. MacPhee … chimpanzees and sifakas, a species of lemur from Madagascar, are more active and show less stereotypical behavior when shifted from indoor to outdoor enclosures.— Jeffrey P. Cohn

Illustration of lemur

Illustration of lemur

Examples of lemur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In her photos, she’s seen befriending a lemur in what appears to be a sanctuary. Claudia Harmata, PEOPLE.com, "Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Share Photos from Tropical Vacation: 'Back to Reality'," 19 Aug. 2019 The only other known animal with such disproportionately long digits is a lemur called the aye-aye. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Trapped in place: A weird ancient bird foot in amber and the lizard in a Microraptor's stomach," 11 July 2019 Lemurs, Madagascar More than 100 species of lemurs live in Madagascar—and nowhere else on Earth. National Geographic, "10 unforgettable animal-watching adventures," 21 June 2019 Zoos around the United States draw millions of people every year, who come to see and learn about exotic animals like giraffes, elephants, lemurs and jaguars. Liz Sanchez, The Mercury News, "How zoos help preserve the world’s species for the future," 23 June 2019 Rep vet Stephen Pugh shows a delightful comic side as the loopy leader of the lemurs (Say that three times fast). Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "You'll want to 'move it, move it,' to Rep's 'Madagascar'," 7 Mar. 2018 The photos in question showed Oliver, who previously had a full fluffy coat of dark gray hair, with a newfound striped appearance similar to that of a lemur's tail. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "This Cat’s Bizarre Haircut Is Going Viral on Social Media," 8 June 2019 While humans average seven hours, other primates range from just under nine hours (blue-eyed black lemurs) to 17 (owl monkeys). Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "How Our Sleeping Habits Helped to Make Us Human," 1 Jan. 2019 In 2015, scientists off the coast of Madagascar found the largest collection of lemur remains ever in such a cave. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Divers Found Giant Bear and Wolf Remains in an Underwater Cave," 2 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lemur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lemur

1795, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lemur

New Latin, from Latin lemures, plural, ghosts

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Dictionary Entries near lemur


Le Moyne






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Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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The first known use of lemur was in 1795

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English Language Learners Definition of lemur

: an animal that is related to monkeys and that lives in trees mostly in Madagascar

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lemur

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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